5+ best video mapping software

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • For projection mapping, you just need a subject, a good tool, and a bit of patience to learn the ropes.
  • Video mapping can be used to create exciting and interactive projects like holograms, enhanced art exhibitions, or music festival visuals.
  • Just like 3D printing, video mapping has a bright future, real-time face tracking being just an example.
  • The suggestions below help you create and adjust outstanding projections for various events. We include both beginner-friendly and professional-level tools.

Video mapping, also known as projection mapping or spatial augmented reality, refers to projection technology used to transform or turn objects into display surfaces for projecting videos.

Simply put, it is the projection of visual animations on objects or other elements of architecture, like what you see in outdoor events like concerts, parties or major shows, and even gaming.

Such objects can be buildings or other industrial landscapes which are often irregularly shaped. So, using the best software for video mapping spatially maps a two or three-dimensional object onto the virtual program, which in turn apes the real environment it will be projected onto.

Artists and advertisers use projection mapping software to add extra dimensions, notions of movement, or even optical illusions to objects that are or were previously static, to create an audio-visual kind of narrative.

They do this in two phases: manufacturing, where the scenario, modeling, motion graphics, video editing and other processes are created, and then the production phase that adds elements like software, cabling and installation among others.

So, what are the best software solutions for video projection mapping to use with your PC? Check out our top picks below.

What are the best software tools for video mapping?

Adobe Premiere Pro

 Adobe Premiere Pro is a software tool well known for its great video editing features and because it can handle pretty much all of the editing you may need.

You can also use this one for creating video mapping. Moreover, with Premiere Pro, you can edit footage in any format, from 8K to virtual reality.

The software can work with any file format you have, no matter it came from your phone or from a professional camera. The lightweight proxy workflows and faster ProRes HDR let you work the way you want with your media, even on mobile workstations.

With Adobe Premiere Pro is relatively easy to map simple shapes and to create a linear timeline. Thus, it is a good choice, no matter if you are new or already a professional in the industry.

The video projection mapping features within Premiere Pro let you add advanced sequencing and layering. If your project also has audio tracks, you can easily import those and get real-time previews of how they go along with the visual effects. 

Premiere Pro has a decent library of stock audio tracks that you can use in your project. It also has motion graphics templates.

Other key features include:

  • Supports all video file formats
  • Advanced color and lightning options
  • Easy sequence creation feature

Premiere Pro is a subscription-based service. You can try it for free for 7 days.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro

The industry-leading video editing software, Adobe Premiere Pro is a great tool to have for video mapping projects.

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Adobe After Effects is another great software, part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite’s tool. It is capable of producing stunning works of visual art and is the video industry standard for visual effects and motion graphics.

This software can be used successfully as mapping software and functions fairly well in relation to creating masks, shapes, manipulating clips, etc.

Its new feature, 3D Transform Gizmo, allows you to scale, position, and rotate 3D layers. This multifunctional gizmo offers more power when navigating 3D due to the visual guides and multiple modes.

There are many great free or paid plugins for camera projection mapping and photo parallax animation. Adobe After Effects allows you to install them.

After Effects can connect to your projector and set it as your display output. You can select the specific resolution of the surface you want to project onto and start adding and editing video mapping effects.

You can easily add 3D objects and use advanced masking in your composition. After Effects also has straightforward drawing options and 3D objects features.

Other key features include:

  • Preset animations
  • Motion graphic templates
  • 3D geometry and depth support

Adobe After Effects is a subscription service. You can get it as a standalone software, or get a Creative Cloud subscription that offers additional Adobe products. All of these tools work seamlessly together. You can try After Effects for free for 7 days.

Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects

With After Effects you can take any idea and make it move. That’s why this software is perfect for video mapping.

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MadMapper

MadMapper is probably the best video mapping software tool, thanks to its simplicity. It can be used on the go. Furthermore, the application is powerful, yet versatile, which makes it the ultimate video mapping tool.

With MadMapper, you can map an unlimited number of videos on any real-life surface with as many projectors as your graphic card can handle.

You can also control LED arrays when light mapping, in real-time, and feed these with video content or generative materials, plus control moving lights with pixel content.

MadMapper is backed by a big community so they keep updating the software constantly, which is why it has new features such as a Dark User Interface, a live editor to code your own materials and an online library to share the materials.

It also features the miniMAD hardware companion which now controls the light, with automatic network synchronization for multi-projection and DMX output to control lighting equipment.

Other salient features include an ultra-fast video player, multiple inputs, masking, video effects, mesh warping, 3D Calibration, and lighting, soft edge, spatial scanner, LED mapping, and much more.

Other key features include:

  • Supports multiple projectors
  • 3D lightning support
  • Support for audio input
  • LED scanner

You can use MadMapper software for architectural video mapping, art installation, stage design, and live shows.

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Isadora (Troikatronix)

isadora video mapping software

If you want video mapping but your project needs a lot more, Isadora is the best software for video mapping you can use.

This tool works well with artists, designers, and performers who want to add video and interactive media to their projects, as it combines a media server, visual programming environment and powerful video/audio processing engine for interactive media playback.

You can create stunning effects in real-time in a user-friendly and easy to learn and use platform, which features 8 HD video playback channels, unlimited video layers, 6 independent video projector outputs, integrated video mapping tool, 4 live camera feeds, custom effects via Open GLSL, built-in video tracking, low latency response to real-time output, and so much more.

One of the great things about it is it lets you generate customization sequences fast, but it is held back by its learning curve and playback performance which reduces frame rates for non-optimized projects.

Isadora has in-depth lighting settings. The node-based interface lets you control any DMX value in real-time.  Not only that, but it can also convert video signals into pixel-mapped values for project outputs.

This software lets you set up multiple projector outputs at once. It has an advanced stage editor that lets you integrate each sequence into its corresponding projectors. It has a blending wizard that can help you generate the best possible adjustments for your particular setting.

Probably one of the biggest assets of this software is that it is highly interactive. You can change your settings as you project and get instant, real-time results.

Other key features include:

  • Motion tracking capabilities
  • Quick movie playback options
  • Timecode for projections

Isadora is a licensed-based software that is compatible with Windows OS and macOS. It has a free trial version with quite a lot of limitations.

Get Isadora

Mapping Matter

Mapping Matter is a web-based video mapping tool with advanced, error-free planning and simulation features.

This is one of the best options when it comes to convenience. You can start working right away, from your browser, without any installation. Moreover, the toolset is easy to understand even if you are not accustomed to the workflow of similar 3D tools.

Mapping Matter lets users generate quick PDF documentation based on their model. It has annotations options if you need to add any further information. This feature can create detailed projector spec lists.

This online mapping tool allows you to interact with projectors by providing throw ratios settings, projection beams width adjustments, lock targets, and more.

Mapping Matter has some basic parametric geometries options, but it does not support full 3D modeling. It supports already made models and helps you add the settings necessary for projection. This tool is compatible with 3D .obj models.

The tool allows to change directional and ambient lighting, create symmetries, apply textures on objects, and more.

Other key features include:

  • Endless undo 
  • Large pattern library
  • Projection distance assistance

Mapping Matter is subscription-based with monthly charges. It has dedicated plans for individual users and for teams. It does provide a 14-day free trial.

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HeavyM

Heavy M positions itself as a quick and easy tool for projection mapping that provides professional features without a huge learning curve.

This tool lets you draw advanced models with multiple layering and masking options. The draw tool allows you to adapt your mapping for any projection surface by working with simple bezier curves. You can either create your own shapes from scratch or use some of the presets available.

HeavyM has a large library of visual effects that allow you to apply pretty much any type of idea to your projection mapping project. It lets you animate effects and improves quality with effects rendering. It also has readily available preset parameters that can save plenty of time.

Another feature that keeps you organized is the sequencer. You can organize your whole projection by creating a sequence list. It offers 40 transition effects that can help create a more seamless experience. 

Considering that projecting shows most certainly use music tracks or live music, the music synchronization feature is a must. It has a built-in sound analysis that can identify the best coherence between visual sequences and music.

Other key features include:

  • Easily import video files
  • Media file manager with playback feature
  • Lets you create playlists

Heavy M is a paid service with multiple options including subscription plans and a lifetime license. It has a demo version that is free of charge and has no time limit.

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Mapio

Mapio is the best software for video mapping if you want to create projection shows, as it not only lets you use a standard screen, but also any inclines like cylindrical and spherical shapes, among others.

Its key features include Spout (Windows) support, two app modes as a plugin or stand-alone app, solid color or gradient for a slice, capture broadcasting video streams, snapshots, importing 3D file format support, editable vectors and image masks, tools for splitting masks and slices, edge blending, advanced warping Bezier tool, and so much more.

You can also use undo unlimited times, copy and paste slices or masks, and autosave and recover your project after a crash.

Mapio supports multiple file formats including AVI, MOV, MP4, WEBM, TS, and GIF for videos and JPEG, BMP TIFF, WEBP, ICO, SVG for image files.

The software provides preset QML sketches for gradient, color grid, GLSL generators, patterns, and more. 

Other key features include:

  • Multi screen output
  • Video and audio sync
  • Automatic and Manual pixel mapping

Mapio is a paid service. It is compatible with Windows and macOS. You can download a free trial to see how it works, but it does not include all the features and places a watermark on all your projects.

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TouchDesigner

TouchDesigner is a visual programming environment for PC that is free but not for commercial use.

The video mapping software solution gives you the tools needed to create stunning, real-time video mapping projects with rich user experiences, whether it’s architectural projections, rapid-prototyping, or interactive media systems.

For video mapping, you can make custom solutions for each project as now two setups are similar.

TouchDesigner’s suite of features and open customization makes each project possible, with multiple solutions to tackle every job, whether small or large in ways that fit each scenario and budget.

Features include tight integration with the real-time 3D engine for complete pre-visualization, support for different projection formats for mapping, dome, VR, stitching, and environment lights.

The stoner tool is useful for keystoning, grid mesh warping, and masking, while the Kantan Mapper helps with 2D mapping and masking which includes Bezier and freeform shapes.

3D is usually the most challenging bit, so TouchDesigner’s CamSchnappr tool for 3D model-based projection alignment and calibration comes in handy.

Other key features include:

  • Support for video and audio devices
  • Complete pre-visualization of project setups
  • Sync operators

It also supports third-party apps like Vioso and Scalable Display’s auto-mapping calibration tools.

Get TouchDesigner

Did your favorite video mapping software tool make the list? Don’t hesitate to share with us your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment in the section below.

Outstanding visual effects can be the missing piece that can completely transform your event into a memorable experience.

Video editing software can be a great starting point in producing high-quality projections.

Frequently Asked Questions

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